Eagles Scaled-Back Practice Sked is No Concern for Foles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Just as things start to heat up for the Philadelphia Eagles, Doug Pederson has pulled back on the throttle for the second consecutive week.
Citing the two consecutive lengthy road trips and the amount of work his defense has seen in Dallas and Los Angeles, Pederson gave his players Tuesday off for the second consecutive week and eliminated the lengthy Wednesday practice for the first time this season in favor of a couple of walkthrough practices.
"Go back two weeks ago against the Cowboys, the defense was on the field for 95-plus plays, long road trip. Had another long road trip coming back from L.A., got back early Monday morning. For me, I need to make sure our guys are as fresh as they can be this time of the year going into the game," Pederson explained. "I just wanted to make sure that we have more of the mental preparation down today. That's why I backed off just a little bit and we'll do two extended, longer walkthroughs than we've done in the past. We can still get a lot of work done. We'll still have our meeting schedule and all that.
"Still want to make sure our guys are fresh for Sunday.
The decision likely also has to do with the lengthy injury report as defensive end Michael Bennett (foot), receiver Alshon Jeffery (illness), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring), left guard Isaac Seumalo (pectoral) and quarterback Carson Wentz (back) were estimated as nor participating in the session.
Meanwhile, special teams stalwart D.J. Alexander (hamstring), Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (hip), Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz (ankle), linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf), defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (back) and punter Cameron Johnston (back) were estimated as limited and offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski (thumb) was described as a full participant despite being spotted near the locker room with a big war on his left hand.
That limited tag is a positive one for Hicks and Jernigan as they could be closer to a return to the lineup while Wisniewski told reporters "I'm good," when spotted outside the locker room.
Pederson is taking a bit of a risk, however, with less on-field preparation for quarterback Nick Foles, who will again start on Sunday vs. Houston.
Foles hadn't seen first-team reps since Week 2 before last week and just as he's put back into the mix with the season on the line, the Eagles have scaled things back when it comes to on-field prep work.
Foles, though, insists there is no concern and called Pederson's decision "smart."
"I think the big thing was playing with the scout team practicing with them going against our starting defense every day," Foles explained. "It might not be out [first-team] offense but there's still schematically some things that are different even if it's carded so I was able to play at a high level every single practice. Was able to practice a lot last week and this week yeah we are having a scale back but I think it's also smart.
"I applaud Doug for that because the most important thing is that our guys have a lot of energy and feel good on game day and we are going to have two great practices this week, go out there, be ready to roll and then by Sunday will be ready."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen